A few years ago, I failed spectacularly at writing an essay about Good Booking, a Penguin UK marketing campaign to get guys to read by telling them they could get laid by doing so (this might be the evolution of that). I called it sleazy, tawdry and just dumb, and that it would bomb.

I write about that here not to showcase my writing flops but because I stumbled across something that I think has a better shot at success: Guys Read. It’s a non-profit group run by author Jon Scieszka aimed at getting boys to read.

“What boys like to read is not often the same as what they are required to read. Literary fiction is the mainstay of required school reading. Yet boys often prefer non-fiction, humor, information, comics/graphic novels, and more humor,” the offical press release says.

I’d venture that this is true for a lot of girls, too. My favorite kids books weren’t found in the classroom, but those books that I picked and read on my own. I was fortunate in that I grew up in a family of readers. Almost every Saturday night, we’d go to the mall, and I’d get to wander around Walden Books and pick out whatever looked good to me, which included a lot of Sweet Valley High, which I think feeds into my Nora Roberts issue. But even if those first books weren’t great works of literary art, they were still books, and I was still reading. Obviously, I still read, and enjoy it, all because I hada way in.

I think this website could be a way in. It offers suggestions and summaries and uses Amazon for recommended reading (e.g. “Like this? You’ll like that). As Alan Bennet wrote in The Uncommon Reader(book 34 of 52 in this series): “What she was finding also was how one book lead to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do.”

Guys Read is a great place for guys to start.

**UPDATE** I’m now writing an article about this. So if you’d like to chime in, hit up the comments or send me an email at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Unknown on March 12, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I was a Sweet Valley High girl, too. – still dislike the name Enid.

    Most of my male friends read a lot of science fiction when they were younger, but only read non-fiction now. I think people feel more productive when they read non-fiction.

    I’ll have to send this to my 16-yr nephew, who loves to read but gripes about the required list – which are still the same as when I was high-school.

  2. Trish Ryan on March 12, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Interesting! As I think back to High School, I realize that I never talked with any of my friends, male or female, about reading. I read a ton of books on everything from the latest dramas at SVH to mob biographies, but somehow, it never came up in the conversation?

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